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Re: “Sports Illustrated writer S.L. Price paints a beautiful, painful portrait of Aliquippa and its football program in Playing Through the Whistle

I seldom recommend books, but I have to chip in on the book Playing Through the Whistle, reviewed here by Charlie Dietch. Yes, I may be biased due to family ties in Aliquippa via my wife, Emily DeFerrari, and her family's history there. But in case you're turned off by the book's title, let me assure you this is hardly just about football. It's about class struggle, labor history, racism, the failure of urban renewal, the failure of municipal and union officials to see the declining future of steel, and certainly it's about corporate theftand high school football. While Aliquippa certainly should be proud of its amazing football history, the book is about the shattered dreams of every steel mill town that people call "home' and can't give up on. Because home, as Mindy Fullilove noted in her book "Root Shock", is about the place where you know that someone still cares about you, despite your mistakes and not just because of your victories, where someone looks out for you, takes you back in when you need emotional and physical shelter, and says, "Welcome home, we love you." Read this book if you want to know more about the history of the Pgh area, and know that it's speaks volumes about much more than just Aliquippa, but also about all our lives and the folks who came before us.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by melpacker on 11/03/2016 at 12:56 PM

Re: “UPMC plans to raise starting hourly wages to $15 by 2021, but what does that mean for unionization efforts?

"Raising it to $15 for most employees"? Not according to the official UPMC FAQ sent to all employees. Quoting from it: "How many employees will this directly affect? (Answer) This impacts more than 10,000 employees." The answer then goes on to talk about UPMC's merit program that affects more than 45,000 employees every year. In fact, according to the same FAQ, only Presby/Shadyside, Mercy, Magee, Childrens', and WPIC, along with a few smaller sites in the URBAN BAND are covered for $15. The minimum in the "Community Band" will be $14.05 and "Regional Band" will only see $13.15 as minimum, both in 2021. We must not get fooled by this and think everyone is benefiting. The devil is in the details.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by melpacker on 04/11/2016 at 4:38 PM

Re: “Recent Penn Plaza evictions highlight East Liberty's severe lack of affordable housing

Excellent article. This trend, supported by both city and county officials, to push low-income working class residents out of our city, serves tax-subsidized developers like Walnut Crapital extremely well as they put up more ugly, but "luxury" condos. This is a conscious policy to move residents seen as "expendable" to our current economy out to the poorer suburbs where they face limited mass transit and fewer services. This is not "development" with a human face, but "displacement" with a liberal corporate face and must be stopped. I am, admittedly, a white person with some privilege, but I'll be damned if I want to live in the city I love but where everyone looks like me and has the same economic status. Cities must be all-inclusive and we have a moral obligation to continue to provide housing at affordable rates for all.

15 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by melpacker on 07/23/2015 at 8:49 AM

Re: “Last Campaign: Barbara Daly Danko should be posthumously elected to Allegheny County Council

Barbara Danko was a courageous person with principles that gave her the strength to speak out against the business interests and political machines that function as if democracy belongs in the hands of a tiny few and the people be damned. She was one of the few, perhaps because of her own battle with cancer, that was willing to try and stop the increased poisoning of our environment by those who heap cash on the politicians that do their bidding. Her family and community should always be proud of the life she led. We all owe her our thanks in memoriam

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by melpacker on 05/13/2015 at 6:01 PM

Re: “The latest iteration of Conflict Kitchen features take-out fare from Palestine

There is nothing anti-semitic about Conflict Kitchen nor the programs it presents. As it has done with every other nation whose food Conflict Kitchen presents, it also allows the residents of those nations to express their thoughts through printed material and via panels held. If those opinions are sometimes critical of Israeli policies and US policies toward Palestine, that does not make it anti-semitic any more than I could have been termed anti-American for protesting the VietNam and current wars we wage. The cry of anti-semitism is both commonly and over-used by those who will not tolerate any criticism of Israeli policies by anyone (which Conflict Kitchen does not express itself) nor any recognition that Palestinians, like all human beings in all nations, deserve full human rights. In fact, the charge of anti-semitism in this case cheapens the word and will eventually cause people to ignore such charges when, in fact, there are many other instances in which the charge can be and should be used, but Conflict Kitchen's existence is not one of them.

16 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by melpacker on 11/05/2014 at 10:02 AM

Re: “On the Record: A conversation with Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department

Karen Hacker's comments essentially supporting fracking should come as no surprise. The position of Health Director is an appointed position by County Exec Rich Fitzgerald who has always made it clear that he expects complete loyalty and subservience to his actions and political attitudes. Fitzgerald, like Corbett, is beholden to the fracking companies. He made that clear in publicly revealed emails in which he demanded campaign funding from the industry, was well rewarded, and is paying back by giving up our public parks to the frackers. Hacker, on the other hand, in her comments before the County Parks Committee discussing fracking in parks, made it clear that she knows nothing about health effects of fracking. Worse, in the above interview, she describes the many scientific studies done showing detrimental health results as "storytelling" and "hearsay". It's interesting to note that this is the industry line as well and does not bode well for the health of our community when our Health Director so willingly and eagerly adopts the industry position rather than delving into the research done on fracking and the reports from various medical associations, especially pediatrics, warning us that "danger lies ahead". Politics must never be allowed to determine medical and health decisions. Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happening in Allegheny County.

15 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by melpacker on 06/19/2014 at 1:27 PM

Re: “Legal scholar: "inconceivable" that new Corbett legal tactic will succeed in fracking battle

"It seem logical that if the Court, for some crazy reason, decided to allow Corbett and the fracking industry to present " ... serious scientific and scholarly testimony and documents that would refute [Castille's] unsubstantiated and factually incorrect conclusions." then the Court should have to allow opposing scientific and scholarly testimony as well. Frankly, I'd put our science up against theirs any day of the week as we could also show that most of theirs is bought and paid for and NOT from independent scientists and scholars.

8 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by melpacker on 01/03/2014 at 5:51 PM

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